FIRST FOLIO! Shakespeare in Young Adult Novels

~posted by Meranda

Shakespeare has been parodied, reimagined, and adapted to fit a number genres. One of my favorite genres is young adult novels, and here are a few novels I found enjoyable.

Ophelia by Lisa Klein is a reimagining of Hamlet as told from the view of Ophelia. Whether you are familiar with Hamlet or not, this beautifully written book feels like a retold fairy tale. You get insight into what might have been going through Ophelia’s mind …and maybe her story didn’t end as you originally were led to believe by Shakespeare. It’s great to see Ophelia as a strong female lead character.

For a little bit more comedy try one of the OMG Shakespeare books. There’s Srsly Hamlet and Macbeth #killingit by Courtney Carbone, and YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright. Each of these books is a retelling of one of Shakespeare’s plays, with characters using a combination of computer and cell phone applications, complete with notes, status updates, messenger logs, emoticons and chat acronyms (along with a helpful dictionary in the back in case you don’t know the meaning of all of them).

R.L. Stine takes an interesting turn with his book A Midsummer Night’s Scream. Those familiar with A Midsummer Night’s Dream can draw connections from the book to the play, but you don’t need to know the play to enjoy the book. Follow Claire as she gets her dream come true of a real acting role in a major motion picture — a horror film to be specific. This is a remake of the film that caused three deaths 60 years ago. and it’s beginning to look like it might be a trend. The appearance of a short, hairy gentleman called Puckerman doesn’t improve anything.

My favorite out of this collection is Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine. This retelling of Romeo and Juliet, told from Benvolio’s perspective, takes a slightly more realistic view of Verona during Shakespeare’s time. The women have little power and the men are expected to die for the honor of their family name. I was swept up in this book and as the end drew near, I had a hard time putting it down. The main plot of Romeo and Juliet remains the same, but we are given reasons behind why things are happening, bringing new suspense to a classic story.

I find it exciting to read retellings of classic tales I have grown up with, and Shakespeare doesn’t disappoint. A little bit of horror with a slightly Shakespearean flavor is also nice. If you didn’t like the plays, try giving one of these stories a go for insight into The Bard.

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